There I was making myself comfortable in the hospitality lounge. Drinks and canapés were being served. People were coming and going from the room and chatting to one another. A couple of guys arrived and sat down on the sofa opposite me, so I began to make conversation. It quickly became clear that for whatever reason they didn’t want to talk, so I left them alone. The two guys began to talk to the host and then 10 minutes later came over and said “Sorry we didn’t know who you were”. I did not engage in a long conversation after that. If it matters who a person is as to whether you talk to them there is something wrong.
At the heart of great leadership is a relational authenticity that treats all people as if they really matter – because they do. Of course this isn’t the same as treating everyone the same which simply isn’t possible. Whilst you can’t be friends with everyone you can be friendly with everyone whether you are engaging with a waiter, taxi driver, shop assistant or receptionist. Authenticity does not allow any form of prejudice and welcomes diversity in all its dimensions:
Given my earlier story you could add ‘status’ to this list and there are probably other dimensions that you would want to add also.
At its simplest, relational authenticity is about treating people as equals no matter how they appear on the outside. How we treat those people whom we think can do nothing for us says a great deal about us. It is my belief that we should treat everyone as if they were a prospective client or prospective customer because everyone is a VIP. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Remember you never know who you are speaking to.
Question: What needs to change about the way you think about and treat other people?
This is the first Relationology Tip in a four part series ‘Relational Leadership’